University helps students discover their true potential

When I started at TCU in 2006, I had no clue who I was or what I wanted out of life. I was divorced, 30 years old and the mother of one child. Four years later, it’s like a fog has lifted and it’s all become clear.

I found myself. On the tree-lined sidewalks of the gorgeous campus, in the basement stacks of the library, in the sunshine-filled commons and in the computer labs inside Moudy. This school, this amazing place, has filled me with so much more than just knowledge.

I never imagined I would see teachers as mentors. I never thought I would learn more than coursework. I learned that these professors are people that care. When Dr. H.G. Dollar tells you to call or come by his office any time, he means it. I remember fondly speaking with him very late at night as he reassured me about my statistics final. Peter Noble teaches so much more than advertising. If you’ve had him, then you know.

Hours spent advising with Dr. John Tisdale were like a blueprint for my life. I can’t imagine the patience he had to go over my schedule with me, tossing hours and courses around until it all fit smoothly together like one of those giant 1,000-piece puzzles.

I became a writer for the Skiff last fall, and I don’t know why I waited so long. Getting to flex my writing muscles and learn how to write for publication has completely changed me. I’m so grateful for the opportunity, and between that and Maggie Thomas’ commitment to teaching proper style, I feel like a real writer now.

I can’t expound on the greatness of TCU without talking about my peers. Years younger than me, I never thought I’d find common ground with them. I thought all sorority girls were like Elle Woods’ friends in the movie “Legally Blonde,” and fraternity guys all drank beer and acted like Van Wilder.

Boy, was I ever wrong. The women of TCU are amazing. Beautiful and whip-smart at the same time, I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t defy the stereotype of a sorority girl. And the men? I wrote a feature story last semester about the Starpoint School. My eyes filled with tears as fraternity brothers told me how they volunteer every day and love the kids. My fellow Frogs have shattered every stereotype.

I love how everyone here has accepted me, despite the fact that I am closer in age to some of the teachers than the students themselves. I have never felt like I did not belong here, and relished the feeling of being a part of something so amazing, like gaining access to the coolest club ever.

I never fathomed in my life that even though I turned in homework assignments that my daughter may have scrawled on, pulled ridiculous all-nighters cramming while holding a sleeping baby in my arms or fell asleep studying when I was pregnant with my second child, I could excel at this school. When people find out I am a mom, they say, “That must be so hard.”

Hard doesn’t begin to describe it, but the difficulty barely registers because I love it. I love this school and my professors, and I adore the friends I have made here. I love myself for accomplishing something I never thought I could. Graduating college has been a dream of mine for a very long time, and on the cusp of walking across that stage like I have dreamt for so long, I am overwhelmed.

As happy as impending graduation is, I am saddened to leave this place. I will miss people saying, “Hey, I read your article in the Skiff. I loved it.” I will miss learning something new, being pushed to think beyond how I thought I could and being challenged to be creative every day. I’ll miss the crappy toilet paper and the parking tickets (well, maybe not) and the quiet in the mornings before 8 a.m. classes. I’ll miss those great conversations with teachers and all the wisdom they have to share.

My legacy extends way beyond the brick that will be outside the library with my name on it. This legacy, what I am leaving behind, is simple. I am a living testament that you can follow your dreams, and with persistence, see them through to completion. TCU has been my home for four years, but the memories are forever, and my diploma will be a proud reminder of when I realized who I was.

This legacy is the looks on my children’s faces when Mommy gets her college degree. This legacy is who I am now, a 35-year-old mom of two and a writer. Thank you, TCU, professors and friends, for showing me everything I could be.

Christi Aldridge is a senior strategic communication major from Hillsboro.